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Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan. a Forest of Hands and Teeth Book.

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 2011
List Price: $17.99
ISBN-13: 9780385738590

Review: What would you do if you knew you had only a few days left to live? This haunting question plagues Annah as she battles for not only her life, but for the lives of all other living people in Carrie Ryan's third installment in her Forest of Hands and Teeth series - The Dark and Hollow Places. In this dystopian novel, Annah must come to terms with her past - leaving her sister in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, the horrific scars she endured from the barbed wire, and her uncertain feelings for Elias after he left to join the Recruiters - if she has any hope of ever having a future.

Annah's world ended when Elias left to join the Recruiters, and the longer he stays away, the more she realizes she's on her own - alone to try to escape the horrors of the Return. Over time, Annah becomes self-sufficient and learns secrets to avoiding the Horde and the Unconsecrated. However, a hole exists in her soul without Elias. In many ways she's as dead and void of life as the desolate world that surrounds her. But, when she runs into Catcher, a boy who in many ways reminds her so much of Elias, she finds that there might be a little life still left inside her. Catcher, however, is mysterious and comes to Annah with not only hope, but also heavy laden with secrets that cloud his past and more importantly link to her past as well. As Annah's feelings for Catcher grow, it becomes very clear that her past will come back to haunt her and she just might have to decide what she would do if she only had a few days left to live.

Carrie Ryan blends horror and romance in such a way that will capture the hearts of young adult readers. The Forest of Hands and Teeth series is about a dystopian world in which people don't merely die, but they come back to haunt and feed off the blood of the living. To truly understand the world in which Annah lives, as well as the characters and challenges they face, it is critical to start at the beginning of the series. However, readers will be excited they did! The Dark and Hollow Places is thought-provoking and makes readers take a look at the world in which they live. When Annah is trying to make sense of her world, she says, "Maybe, I just wonder sometimes if that's why all this happened. If there wasn't enough good in the world and that's what caused the Return. People got greedy and selfish with their lives and were unwilling to let it go in the end when it was time." Readers can't help but wonder what the lasting effects of a greedy world will be - and maybe seeing Annah's world is enough to make people think twice about how they live. Also, the character dynamics are well developed. Annah is a complex character that grows exponentially throughout the series. She makes realizations in The Dark and Hollow Places that show a wealth of maturing, plus her relationships with Elias, her sister, and of course Catcher, light the pages on fire. The story is complex, yet so compelling, readers find themselves reading into the wee hours of night - and then checking under the bed for an Unconsecrated! Although there does not seem to be a sequel in the making, it certainly seems like Annah's story is not finished - which will certainly make Carrie Ryan fans very happy!

Review written by Margo Nauert (6th grade teacher).

We would like to thank Random House for providing a copy of The Dark and Hollow Places for this review.

Have you read The Dark and Hollow Places? How would you rate it?

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